21 October 2018
By supporting retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, the pan-democrats can highlight the importance of issues like universal suffrage and judicial independence in the upcoming chief executive election. Photo: HKEJ
By supporting retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, the pan-democrats can highlight the importance of issues like universal suffrage and judicial independence in the upcoming chief executive election. Photo: HKEJ

How pan-democrats can play a key role in the CE election

The pan-democrats snapped up an unprecedented 325 seats in the recent Election Committee election, accounting for more than one-fourth of the total.

Still, some in the pro-establishment camp have dismissed the pan-democrats’ victory as insignificant, as pro-democracy members on the Election Committee are still outnumbered by their pro-Beijing counterparts.

Those who shrugged off the pan-democrats’ triumph are either completely ignorant about politics or deliberately downplaying the political message behind the pan-democrats’ accomplishments in this election.

In fact, the stunning upset pulled off by the pro-democracy camp is an unmistakable indication that those who cast their votes, particularly constituents from the professional sector, have not given up their hope of achieving universal suffrage and that the representatives they have voted for were elected with a clear mandate to fulfil their aspirations

Thanks to the high turnout, among the 329 candidates sent by the pro-democracy alliance, the “300+”, 299 of them were elected, with a success rate of more than 90 percent.

In addition to the other 26 pro-democracy independents who got elected, they together form a political force even Beijing cannot afford to ignore.

Many sub-groups on the Election Committee which had traditionally been the strongholds of the pro-establishment camp such as the architectual, surveying, planning and landscape sectors as well as the engineering sector were also won by the pan-democrats.

Perhaps the most remarkable outcome came in the healthcare service sector, in which the pan-democratic candidates defeated all of their pro-Beijing rivals and took all 30 seats.

The new pro-democracy members of the Election Committee elected through “one person one vote” on Dec. 11 in fact not only represent the voices of the professional elites but also the democratic aspirations and determination to defend our core values. Therefore, their numbers might still be small compared to the pro-Beijing camp but their mandate is definitely huge.

So, with 325 votes firmly in their hands, what should the pan-democrats do in the upcoming CE election in order to maximize their influence, and above all, to engage the public and make their voices heard in this small circle election?

Given the unsuccessful experiences in the 2007 and 2012 CE elections, in which the pan-democrats nominated their own candidates, Alan Leong and Albert Ho respectively, I would strongly suggest that this time the pan-democrats not nominate their own candidates, but instead, divert their votes to nominate retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

Woo remains a long shot in the race compared to other pro-establishment hopefuls, at least for now, but his proposal to eventually achieve universal suffrage by enlarging the existing voter base of the Election Committee and the functional constituencies of Legco bit by bit is worth further scrutiny and discussion.

Besides, having served as a judge for most of his life, Woo’s integrity is beyond question.

In the meantime, I also urge the pan-democrats to seize the time and put together their own comprehensive election platform that covers all important policy issues such as education, health care, the environment and political reform, and demand that all candidates, including Woo, spell out their stand on these issues, so as to provide Election Committee members with a set of criteria in deciding who to vote for.

On the other hand, the pan-democratic members of the Election Committee have a lot more credibility than their pro-Beijing counterparts and are the only channel through which the public can let their voices heard in the CE election.

The pan-democrats should play an active and constructive role in the upcoming CE election by serving as a bridge and channel of communication between the general public and the candidates.

The pro-democracy camp can influence the agenda and make sure public concerns will be addressed by whoever is elected the next CE.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 28

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Former Secretary for the Civil Service of the Hong Kong Government

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